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Ideas of E.J. Lowe, by Text

[British, 1950 - 2014, Professor at Durham University.]

1987 Lewis on Perdurance versus Endurance
p.191 Maybe particles are unchanging, and intrinsic change in things is their rearrangement
1995 Locke on Human Understanding
Ch.3 p.35 Perception is a mode of belief-acquisition, and does not involve sensation
Ch.3 p.59 Science requires a causal theory - perception of an object must be an experience caused by the object
Ch.4 p.71 On substances, Leibniz emphasises unity, Spinoza independence, Locke relations to qualities
Ch.5 p.103 Personal identity is a problem across time (diachronic) and at an instant (synchronic)
Ch.7 p.146 Mentalese isn't a language, because it isn't conventional, or a means of public communication
Ch.7 p.163 Two things can only resemble one another in some respect, and that may reintroduce a universal
Ch.7 p.168 If meaning is mental pictures, explain "the cat (or dog!) is NOT on the mat"
III p.167 Locke's view that thoughts are made of ideas asserts the crucial role of imagination
III.3.11 p.414 Universals do not exist, but are useful inventions of the mind, involving words or ideas
1995 Things
p.871 Bodies, properties, relations, events, numbers, sets and propositions are 'things' if they exist
1998 The Possibility of Metaphysics
p.217 Metaphysical necessity is logical necessity 'broadly construed'
p.262 Science needs metaphysics to weed out its presuppositions
Pref p.-4 Two of the main rivals for the foundations of ontology are substances, and facts or states-of-affairs
1 p.22 Metaphysics is the mapping of possibilities
1.4 p.14 Logical necessity can be 'strict' (laws), or 'narrow' (laws and definitions), or 'broad' (all logical worlds)
2.10 p.51 Perhaps concrete objects are entities which are in space-time and subject to causality
2.3 p.35 How can a theory of meaning show the ontological commitments of two paraphrases of one idea?
2.3 p.37 An object is an entity which has identity-conditions
2.3 p.39 Our commitment to the existence of objects should depend on their explanatory value
2.9 p.49 Simple counting is more basic than spotting that one-to-one correlation makes sets equinumerous
3.3 p.62 Some things (such as electrons) can be countable, while lacking proper identity
3.9 p.75 Points are limits of parts of space, so parts of space cannot be aggregates of them
4.4 p.97 Events are changes or non-changes in properties and relations of persisting objects
5 p.106 An object 'endures' if it is always wholly present, and 'perdures' if different parts exist at different times
5.3 p.115 How can you identify temporal parts of tomatoes without referring to tomatoes?
5.8 p.132 Is 'the Thames is broad in London' relational, or adverbial, or segmental?
7 p.155 Objects are entities with full identity-conditions, but there are entities other than objects
7.1 p.157 Properties or qualities are essentially adjectival, not objectual
7.5 p.166 The identity of composite objects isn't fixed by original composition, because how do you identify the origin?
7.9 p.173 While space may just be appearance, time and change can't be, because the appearances change
8.2 p.179 Ontological categories are not natural kinds: the latter can only be distinguished using the former
8.2 p.179 Heraclitus says change is new creation, and Spinoza that it is just phases of the one substance
8.2 p.179 Only metaphysics can decide whether identity survives through change
8.3 p.180 The top division of categories is either abstract/concrete, or universal/particular, or necessary/contingent
8.3 p.181 I prefer 'modes' to 'tropes', because it emphasises their dependence
8.3 p.182 Tropes cannot have clear identity-conditions, so they are not objects
9.3 p.197 Sortal terms for universals involve a substance, whereas adjectival terms do not
9.5 p.200 Individuation principles identify what kind it is; identity criteria distinguish items of the same kind
9.5 p.200 One view is that two objects of the same type are only distinguished by differing in matter
9.5 p.200 The idea that Cartesian souls are made of some ghostly 'immaterial' stuff is quite unwarranted
9.5 p.201 Diversity of two tigers is their difference in space-time; difference of matter is a consequence
9.6 p.203 Real universals are needed to explain laws of nature
9.8 p.206 How can tropes depend on objects for their identity, if objects are just bundles of tropes?
9.8 p.207 Why cannot a trope float off and join another bundle?
9.8 p.208 Does a ball snug in plaster have one trope, or two which coincide?
1.3 p.9 Metaphysics tells us what there could be, rather than what there is
1.3 p.10 A 'substance' is an object which doesn't depend for existence on other objects
1.3 p.11 To be an object at all requires identity-conditions
1.3 p.12 The metaphysically possible is what acceptable principles and categories will permit
1.4 p.14 'Conceptual' necessity is narrow logical necessity, true because of concepts and logical laws
10 p.210 Numbers are universals, being sets whose instances are sets of appropriate cardinality
10 p.210 Sets are instances of numbers (rather than 'collections'); numbers explain sets, not vice versa
10.1 p.211 Abstractions are non-spatial, or dependent, or derived from concepts
10.2 p.213 Perhaps possession of causal power is the hallmark of existence (and a reason to deny the void)
10.2 p.213 Some abstractions exist despite lacking causal powers, because explanation needs them
10.3 p.214 Fs and Gs are identical in number if they one-to-one correlate with one another
10.3 p.215 A clear idea of the kind of an object must precede a criterion of identity for it
10.3 p.215 Criteria of identity cannot individuate objects, because they are shared among different types
10.3 p.216 You can think of a direction without a line, but a direction existing with no lines is inconceivable
10.4 p.217 Particulars are instantiations, and universals are instantiables
10.5 p.220 Events are ontologically indispensable for singular causal explanations
10.6 p.221 A set is a 'number of things', not a 'collection', because nothing actually collects the members
10.6 p.223 Does the existence of numbers matter, in the way space, time and persons do?
10.7 p.224 If 2 is a particular, then adding particulars to themselves does nothing, and 2+2=2
11 p.228 It is better if the existential quantifier refers to 'something', rather than a 'thing' which needs individuation
11 p.228 Facts are needed for truth-making and causation, but they seem to lack identity criteria
11.2 p.232 Are facts wholly abstract, or can they contain some concrete constituents?
11.2 p.234 Maybe facts are just true propositions
11.3 p.234 Facts cannot be wholly abstract if they enter into causal relations
11.3 p.236 To cite facts as the elements in causation is to confuse states of affairs with states of objects
11.5 p.243 The problem with the structured complex view of facts is what binds the constituents
11.6 p.245 One-to-one correspondence would need countable, individuable items
12 p.248 Does every abstract possible world exist in every possible world?
12.1 p.250 All possible worlds contain abstracta (e.g. numbers), which means they contain concrete objects
12.3 n8 p.254 I don't believe in the empty set, because (lacking members) it lacks identity-conditions
12.4 p.258 It is whimsical to try to count facts - how many facts did I learn before breakfast?
p.181 p.14 Lowe divides things into universals and particulars, then kinds and properties, and abstract/concrete
2000 Introduction to the Philosophy of Mind
Intro p.1 The main questions are: is mind distinct from body, and does it have unique properties?
70 p.70 If propositions are abstract entities, how can minds depend on their causal powers?
Ch. 2 p.13 A 'substance' is a thing that remains the same when its properties change
Ch. 2 p.13 Perhaps 'I' no more refers than the 'it' in 'it is raining'
Ch. 3 p.43 You can only identify behaviour by ascribing belief, so the behaviour can't explain the belief
Ch. 3 p.49 Non-reductive physicalism accepts token-token identity (not type-type) and asserts 'supervenience' of mind and brain
Ch. 3 p.54 Functionalism can't distinguish our experiences in spectrum inversion
Ch. 3 p.59 If qualia are causally inert, how can we even know about them?
Ch. 3 p.61 'Phenomenal' consciousness is of qualities; 'apperceptive' consciousness includes beliefs and desires
Ch. 3 p.67 Functionalism commits us to bizarre possibilities, such as 'zombies'
Ch. 3 p.67 Functionalism only discusses relational properties of mental states, not intrinsic properties
Ch. 3 p.68 Eliminativism is incoherent if it eliminates reason and truth as well as propositional attitudes
Ch. 4 p.73 The same proposition provides contents for the that-clause of an utterance and a belief
Ch. 4 p.82 Twin Earth cases imply that even beliefs about kinds of stuff are indexical
Ch. 4 p.89 Physicalists must believe in narrow content (because thoughts are merely the brain states)
Ch. 4 p.92 Causal theories of belief make all beliefs true, and can't explain belief about the future
Ch. 4 p.101 The naturalistic views of how content is created are the causal theory and the teleological theory
Ch. 5 p.119 How could one paraphrase very complex sense-data reports adverbially?
Ch. 6 p.136 One must be able to visually recognise a table, as well as knowing its form
Ch. 6 p.145 The 'disjunctive' theory of perception says true perceptions and hallucinations need have nothing in common
Ch. 6 p.147 A causal theorist can be a direct realist, if all objects of perception are external
Ch. 6 p.148 Externalists say minds depend on environment for their very existence and identity
Ch. 6 p.153 Psychologists say illusions only occur in unnatural and passive situations
Ch. 6 p.153 'Ecological' approaches say we don't infer information, but pick it up directly from reality
Ch. 6 p.154 Computationalists object that the 'ecological' approach can't tell us how we get the information
Ch. 6 p.156 If blindsight shows we don't need perceptual experiences, the causal theory is wrong
Ch. 6 p.157 The brain may have two systems for vision, with only the older one intact in blindsight
Ch. 7 p.172 Comparing shapes is proportional in time to the angle of rotation
Ch. 7 p.176 Some behaviourists believe thought is just suppressed speech
Ch. 8 p.201 'Base rate neglect' makes people favour the evidence over its background
Ch. 8 p.201 People are wildly inaccurate in estimating probabilities about an observed event
Ch. 8 p.203 Syntactical methods of proof need only structure, where semantic methods (truth-tables) need truth
Ch. 8 p.216 A computer program is equivalent to the person AND the manual
Ch. 8 p.220 The 'Frame Problem' is how to program the appropriate application of general knowledge
Ch. 8 p.228 The Turing test is too behaviourist, and too verbal in its methods
Ch. 9 p.230 Computers can't be rational, because they lack motivation and curiosity
Ch. 9 p.250 The three main theories of action involve the will, or belief-plus-desire, or an agent
Ch. 9 p.254 Libet gives empirical support for the will, as a kind of 'executive' mental operation
Ch. 9 p.255 We feel belief and desire as reasons for choice, not causes of choice
Ch. 9 p.257 People's actions are explained either by their motives, or their reasons, or the causes
Ch.10 p.264 Persons are selves - subjects of experience, with reflexive self-knowledge
Ch.10 p.266 All human languages have an equivalent of the word 'I'
Ch.10 p.277 There are memories of facts, memories of practical skills, and autobiographical memory
Ch.10 p.287 If my brain could survive on its own, I cannot be identical with my whole body
Ch.10 p.289 It seems impossible to get generally applicable mental concepts from self-observation
2002 A Survey of Metaphysics
p.100 p.100 'Is non-self-exemplifying' is a predicate which cannot denote a property (as it would be a contradiction)
p.11 p.11 It is impossible to reach a valid false conclusion from true premises, so reason itself depends on possibility
p.113 p.113 Conventionalists see the world as an amorphous lump without identities, but are we part of the lump?
p.121 p.121 We might eliminate 'possible' and 'necessary' in favour of quantification over possible worlds
p.15 p.15 The category of universals can be sub-divided into properties and relations
p.15 p.15 The main categories of existence are either universal and particular, or abstract and concrete
p.161 p.161 'If he wasn't born he wouldn't have died' doesn't mean birth causes death, so causation isn't counterfactual
p.173 p.173 The theories of fact causation and event causation are both worth serious consideration
p.176 p.176 If the concept of a cause says it precedes its effect, that rules out backward causation by definition
p.179 p.179 Causal overdetermination is either actual overdetermination, or pre-emption, or the fail-safe case
p.182 p.182 Hume showed that causation could at most be natural necessity, never metaphysical necessity
p.190 p.190 Causation may be instances of laws (seen either as constant conjunctions, or as necessities)
p.191 p.191 Maybe such concepts as causation, identity and existence are primitive and irreducible
p.2 p.2 Metaphysics is concerned with the fundamental structure of reality as a whole
p.2 p.2 The behaviour of persons and social groups seems to need rational rather than causal explanation
p.211 p.211 It seems proper to say that only substances (rather than events) have causal powers
p.219 p.219 It is more extravagant, in general, to revise one's logic than to augment one's ontology
p.225 p.225 Numerically distinct events of the same kind (like two battles) can coincide in space and time
p.229 p.229 Maybe an event is the exemplification of a property at a time
p.233 p.233 Maybe modern physics requires an event-ontology, rather than a thing-ontology
p.234 p.234 If all that exists is what is being measured, what about the people and instruments doing the measuring?
p.241 p.241 Unfalsifiability may be a failure in an empirical theory, but it is a virtue in metaphysics
p.242 p.242 If motion is change of distance between objects, it involves no intrinsic change in the objects
p.245 p.245 Events are changes in the properties of or relations between things
p.254 p.254 Surfaces, lines and points are not, strictly speaking, parts of space, but 'limits', which are abstract
p.26 p.26 If 5% replacement preserves a ship, we can replace 4% and 4% again, and still retain the ship
p.264 p.264 If space is entirely relational, what makes a boundary, or a place unoccupied by physical objects?
p.27 p.27 A renovation or a reconstruction of an original ship would be accepted, as long as the other one didn't exist
p.290 p.290 An infinite series of tasks can't be completed because it has no last member
p.31 p.31 If old parts are stored and then appropriated, they are no longer part of the original (which is the renovated ship).
p.313 p.313 Time involves change, only the A-series explains change, but it involves contradictions, so time is unreal
p.352 p.352 Nominalists believe that only particulars exist
p.355 p.355 If 'blueness' is a set of particulars, there is danger of circularity, or using universals, in identifying the set
p.361 p.361 Trope theory says blueness is a real feature of objects, but not the same as an identical blue found elsewhere
p.362 p.362 Maybe a cushion is just a bundle of tropes, such as roundness, blueness and softness
p.367 p.367 Tropes seem to be abstract entities, because they can't exist alone, but must come in bundles
p.368 p.368 The centre of mass of the solar system is a non-causal abstract object, despite having a location
p.368 p.368 Concrete and abstract objects are distinct because the former have causal powers and relations
p.372 p.372 Nominalists deny abstract objects, because we can have no reason to believe in their existence
p.375 p.375 If there are infinite numbers and finite concrete objects, this implies that numbers are abstract objects
p.375 p.375 It might be argued that mathematics does not, or should not, aim at truth
p.44 p.44 Four theories of qualitative change are 'a is F now', or 'a is F-at-t', or 'a-at-t is F', or 'a is-at-t F'
p.59 p.59 Change can be of composition (the component parts), or quality (properties), or substance
p.62 p.62 Identity of Indiscernibles (same properties, same thing) ) is not Leibniz's Law (same thing, same properties)
p.70 p.70 Statues can't survive much change to their shape, unlike lumps of bronze, which must retain material
2003 Individuation
p.87 Not all predicates can be properties - 'is non-self-exemplifying', for example
12 p.93 If the flagpole causally explains the shadow, the shadow cannot explain the flagpole
5 p.81 Neither mere matter nor pure form can individuate a sphere, so it must be a combination
8 p.86 Properties are facets of objects, only discussable separately by an act of abstraction
2008 Two Notions of Being: Entity and Essence
Intro p.23 Metaphysics aims to identify categories of being, and show their interdependency
1 p.28 Holes, shadows and spots of light can coincide without being identical
1 p.33 Philosophy aims not at the 'analysis of concepts', but at understanding the essences of things
2 p.35 Each thing has to be of a general kind, because it belongs to some category
2 p.35 All things must have an essence (a 'what it is'), or we would be unable to think about them
2 p.39 Knowing an essence is just knowing what the thing is, not knowing some further thing
2 n32 p.40 Descartes' claim to know his existence before his essence is misleading or absurd
2009 An essentialist approach to Truth-making
p.202 p.202 Propositions are made true, in virtue of something which explains its truth
p.207 p.207 Tropes have existence independently of any entities
p.212 p.212 Modes are beings that are related both to substances and to universals
2013 What is the Source of Knowledge of Modal Truths?
1 p.1 'Epistemic' necessity is better called 'certainty'
1 p.1 'Metaphysical' necessity is absolute and objective - the strongest kind of necessity
1 p.2 Logical necessities, based on laws of logic, are a proper sub-class of metaphysical necessities
2 p.5 'Intuitions' are just unreliable 'hunches'; over centuries intuitions change enormously
2 p.6 A concept is a way of thinking of things or kinds, whether or not they exist
6 p.16 We could give up possible worlds if we based necessity on essences
6 p.17 A definition of a circle will show what it is, and show its generating principle
6 p.18 Defining an ellipse by conic sections reveals necessities, but not the essence of an ellipse
6 p.20 If an essence implies p, then p is an essential truth, and hence metaphysically necessary
6 p.20 Explanation can't give an account of essence, because it is too multi-faceted
6 p.21 Metaphysical necessity is either an essential truth, or rests on essential truths
6 p.21 The essence of lumps and statues shows that two objects coincide but are numerically distinct
6 p.22 The essence of a bronze statue shows that it could be made of different bronze
6 p.23 An essence is what an entity is, revealed by a real definition; this is not an entity in its own right
6 p.23 H2O isn't necessary, because different laws of nature might affect how O and H combine
6 p.24 Simple things like 'red' can be given real ostensive definitions
7 p.26 Direct reference doesn't seem to require that thinkers know what it is they are thinking about
7 p.28 Grasping an essence is just grasping a real definition
7 p.28 If we must know some entity to know an essence, we lack a faculty to do that